Dehumidifiers have become a mainstay in homes and commercial/industrial buildings and provide an important function in humid places, such as tropical climates.
Considering that humidity is moisture in the air, what does a dehumidifier do with this excess water when helping to lower humidity?
Dehumidifiers do collect water. The water collected is the result of the moisture extracted from the air and stored in a container called a tank or a bucket. Some dehumidifiers are also designed to bypass the container with a hose in a process known as continuous drainage.
Our own dehumidifier is a portable version and has a removable water tank that’s used to collect the moisture removed from the air in our home.
It also has a slot that we can use with a hose to set up continuous drainage if we needed to, bypassing the requirement to have to empty the tank when it’s full.
We take a deeper dive into how dehumidifiers work, their benefits, emptying the unit, maintenance, costs, and downsides in more detail below.
Dehumidifiers draw moist air in through an air vent with a fan, which in turn forces this air through a set of coils (for refrigerant types) or a desiccant wheel (for desiccant types).
As a result of passing through the refrigerated coils, the warm air contracts, expelling the moisture it carries.
This moisture is left inside the dehumidifier as condensation, which is collected in a reservoir.
The dried air is then forced back out of the device and into the ambient air through the other side of the machine.
Once the unit is full, an indicator will activate to tell the operator to empty the reservoir.
Typically, dehumidifiers that have a collection tank are portable units.
These units will have a tank or collection bucket usually in the bottom of the unit, which will need to be emptied on a regular basis. Smaller units require this maintenance on a daily basis or even more frequently.
While this can be a time-consuming or back-breaking chore for some people, there are ways around this.
Bypassing the tank system with a hose or piping to drain the unit is possible, depending on the model.
For example, our dehumidifier has a slit at the top of the reservoir where we can install a pipe for continuous drainage and remove the need to empty the tank manually.
While this may vary from brand to brand, this is generally how you would empty a dehumidifier:
- Shut the unit off completely and wait for it to power down.
- Locate the unit’s reservoir.
- Take out the water tank.
- Dispose of the water by pouring down a drain.
Emptying a dehumidifier is important for the appliance to continue operating.
You’ll find a region in the dehumidifier specifically devoted to storing water taken from the air, which you’ll need to empty when full on portable versions.
While this may seem simple for some, it can also be a challenge.
Someone who is elderly, disabled, or far too busy may think twice before purchasing a unit. If one were to place a dehumidifier in a basement, for example, they may end up carrying the unit upstairs to the kitchen sink.
Additionally, if busy, or even away from home or space for extended periods of time, this may restrict their time. Thus, they may be unable to empty the unit on a regular basis.
There are ways to bypass this process completely and render the back-breaking work unnecessary. All you need is a simple hose and maybe a pump.
One suggestion that comes up commonly for this problem is that you can simply attach a hose to the unit and run it into a drain.
This is a wonderful solution for those that are typically running a portable unit in their basement with a drain in the floor. However, not everyone has a drain on the floor.
This presents a problem in the form of gravity. Not everyone has a drain in the floor or is using a dehumidifier in a place other than a basement or laundry room. Given that you can still run a hose from the unit until an elevated drain or sink, the water will not simply travel up through the hose.
Pumps have become available that can pump collected water upwards through a hose.
For gravity solutions, attaching a hose to a dehumidifier can allow the water tank to overflow and provide continuous drainage.
While there are complications in owning and operating a dehumidifier, there are many significant benefits.
Many people allow the chores of maintaining a dehumidifier to prevent them from purchasing one. There are many pros and cons to consider with dehumidifiers.
Alongside being able to collect excess moisture from the air in a home and help prevent condensation and mold, below are some of the other benefits of having a dehumidifier:
- Helps to reduce allergens
- Reduction in HVAC maintenance costs
- Lower energy costs
- Can help with asthma
- Can discourage visits from pests
There are many benefits for having a dehumidifier, especially regarding your health and well-being. If you suffer from asthma or allergies, then consider investing in a dehumidifier.
See our article on filters for dehumidifiers for more information.
There are other downsides to consider before purchasing a unit for your home or space. These mainly exist in the realm of what happens if you use one too much or if you use one and do not need it.
This is why you should have an HVAC professional determine if your space can benefit from a dehumidifier. They may even be able to determine if you need a permanent solution or not.
Doing your research will also be beneficial here as like many products there are different brands with different reviews.
Regardless, let’s go over the downsides of using a dehumidifier.
Like all good things, too much can be bad. Naturally, using a dehumidifier in a space that does not need it or using one too often can result in the air becoming too dry.
If a space’s humidity is too low, people occupying it may experience dry skin and sore throats, and be more susceptible to colds in the wintertime.
On the opposite spectrum of too much moisture harming structural materials, air that is too dry can have negative effects as well.
Overly dry air can make drywall, wood floors, and furniture very brittle and over season the materials quicker than normal.
Depending on the conditions upon which a unit is running, ice buildup can form on the refrigeration system within the unit itself.
Ice buildup can restrict airflow and can continue to build up until the refrigeration coils are encased in a block of ice. This issue is mitigated in higher quality models that come with a built in frost or ice sensor.
While permanent dehumidifiers can cost many thousands for purchase and installation, portable dehumidifiers do not.
On average, portable units can range from $700 to well over $1,700. These types of units can be purchased at your local home improvement store or even online.
By mitigating the need for installation, this is a great budget option.
While it may be a heavy chore to empty a dehumidifier regularly, it should not be discouraging. Dehumidifiers have many benefits that you can enjoy in their home or office space.
There are also ways to completely bypass the manual draining process if needed.
The simple addition of a hose and pump that can be purchased in addition to the unit can mitigate the manual labor completely.
If you live in a muggy climate or suffer from allergies, definitely consider getting yourself a dehumidifier for your space.